Day 4 of Cannes Lions 2023

In an era dominated by serious messaging and intense competition, Andrew Robertson, President and CEO of BBDO Worldwide, brought a refreshing perspective to the 2023 Cannes Lions festival. He made a case for a strategic pivot towards humor in advertising, emphasizing its potential to revolutionize brand engagement and communication strategies.

During his presentation, Robertson underscored the power of humor with compelling data: ads infused with humor are 90% more memorable and 80% more likely to be recommended. It showcases that humor significantly boosts brand recall and advocacy, making it a crucial tool in a marketer's arsenal.

Robertson highlighted the universal appeal of humor, noting its effectiveness across various contexts—from easing stress during challenging times to engaging with tech-savvy Generation Z consumers. He argued that humor has a place even in unexpected areas such as e-commerce, AI technology applications, and purpose-driven campaigns. By incorporating humor, brands can create more engaging, relatable, and impactful messages.

"I think purpose is essential, I just don’t think it always has to be serious"

Furthermore, Robertson addressed the emotional dynamics of advertising, where humor stands out as a powerful driver of consumer behavior. In a global climate marked by increased stress and dissatisfaction, humor can act as a therapeutic balm.

Robertson stated, proposing that brands could significantly benefit from integrating humor into their communications to lighten the mood and enhance message reception.

Andrew Robertson, President and CEO of BBDO Worldwide, delivers his main stage presentation at Cannes Lions 2023

The significance of humor in advertising is not just theoretical but practical. Creating effective humor requires skill and insight, making it a specialized craft within the marketing industry. When executed well, humorous content not only stands out but also establishes a brand's identity as approachable and relatable, giving it a competitive edge in a crowded market.

Robertson's call for more humor in advertising is not an isolated trend but part of a broader industry movement towards embracing diverse emotional appeals to connect with audiences more deeply. Brands such as Old Spice, Geico, and Bud Light have long used humor to great effect, creating memorable campaigns that resonate with wide audiences and cultivate a loyal customer base.

Andrew Robertson, President and CEO of BBDO Worldwide, 'Don't get vaccinated by Wilmore Funeral Home' ad overview at Cannes Lions 2023

In his conclusion, Robertson proposed the introduction of a new Cannes Lions award for the best use of humor, highlighting its growing importance and efficacy in the advertising sector. This proposal was met with enthusiasm, reflecting a collective industry interest in recognizing and rewarding creative approaches that break the mold. We'll look forwards for this category in Cannes 2024.

As the advertising industry continues to evolve, integrating humor into marketing strategies could play a pivotal role in enabling brands to connect more meaningfully with their audiences. Robertson's advocacy for humor in advertising at Cannes Lions 2023 serves as a call to action for marketers to rethink their approach and consider the broad, untapped potential of humor in shaping future advertising trends.

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